Editorial: CIA torture program in need of  accountability

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“Should any American soldier be so base and infamous as to injure any [prisoner]. . . I do most earnestly enjoin you to bring him to such severe and exemplary punishment as the enormity of the crime may require. Should it extend to death itself, it will not be disproportional to its guilt at such a time and in such a cause… for by such conduct they bring shame, disgrace and ruin to themselves and their country.”- George Washington, 1775. 

James Mitchell, the mind behind the CIA’s torturing of prisoners at black sites located across the world at the beginning of the War on Terror, testified at Guantanamo Bay Tuesday afternoon, bringing back into the spotlight one of the darkest hours in U.S. history. 

The period was a bleak one for many reasons, the United States had just been attacked on its own soil on Sept. 11 2001, our brave troops were overseas fighting a war that still wages on today and the nation was on edge. But during it all, underneath all of our eyes, the United States was committing war crimes, torturing prisoners, orchestrated by Mitchell. 

What happened to the United States during this time, the Sept. 11 attacks and the military forces who lost their lives, can never be replaced and the loss of their lives is heartbreaking and unforgiveable. Our opponent in this war was a group of terrorists, mainly the group Al Qaeda led by Osama Bin Laden, who are among some of the worst and most violent people to ever walk the Earth.  

Our opponent fought dirty and maliciously with no regard for human life, throwing out any and all kinds of rulebooks that had ever been written. And for a period of time, rather than rising above our adversary and setting an example for the rest of the world, the United States stooped down to their level and tortured prisoners at black sites in some of the most inhumane ways imaginable.  

Our prisoners were subject to torture that included sleep deprivation of periods up to 11 days, waterboarding, beatings, being locked in wooden boxes for countless hours, being shackled in the fetal position to metal poles, being hung by their hands from metal poles, force fed food and water through the anus, left in cold rooms wearing little clothing after being doused in cold water and much more. All of it was designed to make life as miserable as possible for those in our captivity.  

The United States is better than that. We have to be better than that. Yes our opponents were among some of the most villainous and evil people possibly ever, and many of the people in captivity were criminals in their own rights with no morale codes or compasses. But we cannot be as bad as our opponents, we must be better than them, we should be the ones to show the world how things are done. By torturing those we have captured, we are doing the opposite of that.  

It is as George Washington said in the quote above, a U.S. soldier who injures a prisoner themselves, is committing a crime. 

Mitchell, being the mastermind behind the CIA’s gruesome torture program should be held accountable. No person should be able to act that inhumanely while serving the United States of America.  

We are the greatest country on Earth and we should act as such, every day of every month of every year.